Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Culture of Lost and FOUND

I refuse to play the "I'm busier than you game." I don't think people want to hear (or read) about how much I have going on in life. Who wins? But sometimes, life really does get hectic. I get stressed and to make ends meet or get things done, something has to give. For some of us it's exercise, for others it's eating right. For me, sleep is what gets tossed and this is costly. Not just to my patience, or to my mental health and well-being—I mean this literally. How is that true? I lose things. I forget them. I leave them behind or somewhere I cannot remember. I retrace my footsteps, I make phone calls, I even show up in person to search for the item my bad self. The lost never has a found. And, it's at times like these, I wish I lived in Japan. 
It is a cultural norm in Japan to replace any and everything that is lost to its rightful owner. If you lose your wallet on the J-Rail, you can expect to get it back, credit cards, ID and cash in full. The Japanese people nearly go out of their way to make sure this happens. In fact, there is an 85% return rate on all lost items in this island nation. 85%!!! What do you think ours might be in the US? When I lose something, I try to imagine a world where we return what is not our own in full. I wish more folks knew about this Japanese way of proceeding. But, I don't have to—this culture already exists.

Golf, a sport that I hate (based on today's round) encourages a similar modus operandi. When a golfer leaves behind a club, head cover, sunglasses or even a phone, it is customary to pick it up and return it to either the pro shop, starter or to find the rightful owner. And, if they do not find their way "home," I believe that is because the golfer who found the item (like a club) simply forgets to return it. I am guilty of this offense. I should count my clubs every time I play (its a violation of the rules to carry more than 14 clubs) but I don't. Found club gets left in my bag until I check. I have said more than once, "Where did this club come from?!" I then remember....I do what I can to get it back to my club or the course where I played. I hope I have an 85% return rate on picking up lost items. 
Though I did not lose anything while traveling in Japan, I have certainly lost my fair share of golf items. I have yet to be disappointed by this "culture." For example, I have a plaid head cover from the 2015 US Open: Chambers Bay, that I love. By the time I realized it was missing, daylight was no more. I sought out a marshall who asked the players behind me if they found my head cover. The marshall continued to look for an extended period of time, to no avail. He said, I'll call you tomorrow; we will find it. I left totally unconvinced and mad at myself. Less than 24 hours later, he called me and asked me to return to the pro shop to get my head cover. When I look at this plaid wonder, I am reminded of what is and what could be...

As my friend Alex Montoya has said, "the two greatest words in the English language are What if?!" His words have inspired me to think differently about the world we live in, our cultural norms and social expectations. What if everyone who lost something understood and believed they would get it back.

The parable of the Lost Coin reminds us of the importance of LOOKING for what we have lost. In Luke 15: 8-10, we read
“Or what woman having ten coins* and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Certainly we must make the effort to seek out our personal belongings, but quite often we begin the feat as though it is futile. We search with skepticism....we are reluctant to believe we will be reunited with what we left behind. What if we changed our outlook from the start? What if we had a reason to...

On Easter Wednesday, I presented Sports and Spirituality 3.0: Success in Sports at the NCEA Convention in St. Louis, MO. After my presentation, I had the awesome opportunity to sign my book, Pray and Practice with Purpose: A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes. I was a bit of a maniac in m preparation for a busy day. I found myself in Kinko's running off handouts about an hour before game time! Knowing the day would be hectic, I ran into Starbucks where I bought a to-go salad for lunch, the same salad I left next to the printing station. I returned to that Kinko's a half hour after my book signing. I sheepishly asked if anyone had turned in a Starbucks salad. The manager said "Yes! we put it in the refrigerator. I saw it and figured someone would be coming back for their delicious lunch. I'm glad you did."

To hear his words felt like a near moral victory. Maybe Japan, and the golf course isn't that far away.  Keep looking....and keep finding! When you do, return what you have found.

Photo Credits
Lost and Found in Japan
Lost Golf Ball

Lost Coin

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